While I knew I wanted to dine at Chicha, a restaurant of famed Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio, during our time in Cusco I also wanted to make sure I picked some other good choices; I didn’t want any mediocre dining experiences. Cusco is very much a “tourist” city where there is a plethora of tourist-trap looking establishments. I wanted to choose wisely…
I first discovered Inka Grill while browsing TripAdvisor (I know I know, not always the most reputable source for reviews). But numerous reviews were favorable and when I checked out its website, I was also pleased with what I saw listed on its menu (Peruvian fare all the way, just what I wanted). While the website had a link to make reservations (sometimes when restaurants recommend making reservations, they’re doing this for a reason), I didn’t and decided to wing it, hoping that I wouldn’t regret this later on.
On our first day in Cusco we were actually supposed to dine at Chicha but between it taking longer than planned to travel from Ollantaytambo to Cusco (traffic and our driver being stopped at a random checkpoint in the Sacred Valley-more on that “gem” to come) and having to deal with the whole room debacle at our hotel in Cusco, I decided to eat the reservation since we would have had to literally race there. Instead I decided to try for plan B a day early, which was dining at Inka Grill.
The restaurant is located right on the Plaza de Armas and even though a staff member was standing outside with a menu, attempting to usher people to dine there (this to me is something “good” restaurants shouldn’t have to do), my concerns that this would be a lackluster meal were unfounded. The interior was bright and decidedly classy (more so than I thought it would be).
I didn’t have to worry about not having a reservation as there were still plenty of tables available. As was a theme throughout our entire time in Peru, we didn’t eat our usual amount of food, both of us just ordering entrees.
I went with the Aji Gallina, one of Peru’s most popular dishes. While I had eaten it before at a Peruvian restaurant here in Pittsburgh (that sadly has long since closed), it was awesome being able to feast on it IN Peru. It’s essentially a chicken stew that comes in a somewhat spicy and bright yellow sauce, the coloring derived from the aji peppers. It truly is one of my favorites.
D opted for Lomo Saltado, another Peruvian culinary staple that I had eaten the day before at lunch while in the town of Aguas Calientes. It’s a delicious beef and vegetable stir fry that comes with rice and fries. We both thoroughly enjoyed our meals.
Complimentary chips and some type of salsa were also provided but unlike in America, where something like this stays on your table, as soon as the entrees came the only half eaten basket of chips was whisked away.
For two bottles of water and both of our entrees which were extremely generous portions, the meal came out to less than $40 USD. This is somewhat “pricey” for Peru and yet a meal like this in the United States would have cost a lot more.
I’m really glad to have stumbled across the Inka Grill and while it displayed “shades” of being a tourist-trap style restaurant, the food was definitely not. Dining here will definitely get you hooked on the goodness that is Peruvian food.
Portal de Panes 115 Cusco Peru